We are highly influenced by the environment around us. Our environment can either
encourage or prevent optimal productivity. One aspect of our environment that can make or
break us are our environmental cues. Environmental cues are simply the information around us that inform us of what is happening and how to respond. Often cues in our environment (cell phones, music, etc.) pull our attention away from what we need to accomplish. This is especially true when what we need to accomplish is difficult or uninteresting. Nevertheless, we must still put forth the effort and accomplish the task in front of us. To make your environment more conducive to productivity, you should eliminate or minimize attentional distractors. Below are suggested steps that you can take to do this:
Enhance your self-awareness to the distractions around you. This is especially important in an environment such as NSHQ where we engage in complex work, requiring our full attention to ensure optimal performance. Make a list of current and potential distractors; be aware. Then identify what distractors are controllable and what distractors are not. For example, the cleanliness of your office has a large impact on your productivity. Studies have shown that neat environments increase work productivity.
Eliminate the distractors that you can control. We cannot control all of the distractors within our environment, but we can take action on the distractors that are within our control. This is where we focus our effort – on what we can control.
Incorporate effective cues into your environment. Not all external stimuli is bad for us. In fact, our brain responds incredibly well to specific targets. The more specific the target you offer your brain, the more effective we are in sustaining our attention. A cue as simple as a sticky note on your computer with the word “focus” or the phrase “make time to work out” can help encourage us to do just that; focus our attention on the relevant stimuli.
Reevaluate your distractors and cues. Have you effectively identified and eliminated all of the distractors within your control? Are the cues that you have established working for you?
Finally, a fun fact! One study found that 21-22 degrees Celsius ( 70-72 degrees Fahrenheit ) is the optimal temperature for productivity. “Lower temperatures increase the number of errors we make and how often we call in sick, and higher temperatures, above 30 degrees Celsius, decrease our productivity by about 10 percent. We’re all wired differently, of course, so your mileage may vary” (Bailey, 2019).
Own your environment, own your productivity. Still have questions? Your human performance team is here to help you manage your attention effectively to ensure optimal performance.
As we help our numerous clients cope with the unique stressors inherent in today’s uncertain world, we are thrilled to offer the services of Dr. Kate Colvin, PhD. As Director of Human Performance, Kate’s role is to provide training and education around various aspects of mental and physical wellbeing, including stress management, effective thinking, mindfulness, attentional focus techniques, goal attainment, organizational leadership, memory and learning enhancement, and sleep. Kate has assisted hundreds of LSDS clients, and is available to help you navigate the path ahead. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about what Dr. Kate Colvin, PhD, can provide for you.